Expenses revisited

Baroness Deech

During the Xmas break, I read a wonderful book that I should have discovered earlier – No Expenses Spared, by Winnett and Rayner (2009).  The authors are two of the journalists at the Daily Telegraph who uncovered the MPs’ expenses scandal, and they explain how the stories unfolded.  It makes for fascinating reading, but it leaves some questions unanswered.  It was written before the events that led up to the Leveson Inquiry, and in the climate of today I expect there might have been more questions at the start of the expenses investigation about the legality of the way the details of the MPs’ expenses were obtained, and exactly what it was that motivated so many MPs either to downright cheat, or at least exploit to the full the legitimate allowances in ways that did not appeal to the public.  Coincidentally today it was reported that many MPs feel that they should be paid higher salaries.  This brought predictable boos and groans from the Any Questions audience on Radio 4 this evening, but the sensible point was made by panellist Douglas Murray that if the salary were higher, one could do away with the expenses allowances altogether.  For of course in some cases MPs behaved as they did because they believed that maximising expenses was a way of fairly increasing their salaries. As a result, Lords no longer have expenses, but only a flat rate. (Bloggers, please do not start going on about our costs, we know what you think.)  Whatever the motives, the result of the expenses scandal was to damage trust in, and the reputation of all MPs, and to a lesser extent peers, and restoration is not yet in sight.

But now almost every section of the nation’s establishment in turn is facing allegations of untrustworthy behaviour and is being investigated, to the dismay of the public.  First it was the bankers and the financial world, whose behaviour damaged the national and international economy.  Then it was MPs and peers, followed by the journalists themselves (the phone hacking story and its aftermath); the Churches have come under suspicion in relation to child abuse and attitudes to women and gays; teachers are accused of helping students do their work to get higher grades, and universities of admitting foreign students who are not genuine.  The BBC is mired in the Jimmy Savile crimes.  The police are once again the object of examination after the plebgate incident and because of their links with politicians and journalists.  Hospitals, it seems, cannot be trusted to take care of the elderly, show compassion to patients and not waste money; some sportsmen are caught taking drugs and behaving badly, and so on.  This country, once renowned for its integrity and lack of corruption, now seems to have crisis of suspicion and mistrust. 

One of the few professions to retain trust is the legal profession, in particular, the judiciary.   I have every confidence that they deserve our trust. It is the judges to whom we turn to investigate the scandals mentioned above.  The Bar Council recently protested, quite rightly, about the situation in India where lawyers refused to represent the 6 alleged rapists involved in the terrible recent assault on a young girl who died from her injuries. The barristers’ cab rank rule, which requires our advocates to take every case that comes along, without regard to its popularity, is an essential part of our rule of law.

21 comments for “Expenses revisited

  1. Gareth Howell
    12/01/2013 at 9:51 am

    what it was that motivated so many MPs either to downright cheat, or at least exploit to the full the legitimate allowances in ways that did not appeal to the public.

    They always had been cheating, but the DT exposée put them on the line once the Lords reform became Act. they will continue to exploit to the full legitimate allowances; now it is more rigorously vetted, but just the same.

    As for Jimmy Savile, I presume then that Witches have to be dead now before they are prosecuted, so that they can not answer back.
    Witches did not either. If they drowned they were innocent, and if they came up breathing they were guilty.

    As Lord Lane once said
    I find it hard enough
    to account for the thoughts
    of the living,
    let alone the thoughts
    of the dead
    to an idiotic member at
    three in the afternoon
    who wanted to know what
    the dead man would have said,
    having just arisen from bed.

  2. Dave H
    12/01/2013 at 10:00 am

    MPs are doing themselves no favours in calling for a huge pay rise for themselves when they’re restricting others to almost nothing. I’d put it to them that if they can’t afford to live on over £60K/year plus a weekly food allowance many time greater than some people’s total benefits then they ought to quit being an MP.

    As for barristers, I know they’re trained to do it, but I know I’d find it very difficult to argue a case for someone unless I considered them innocent. However, it is important for our system that everyone, whatever their alleged crime, has someone prepared to argue their side, and the cab rule is a good way of making sure this happens.

    • maude elwes
      14/01/2013 at 4:48 pm

      And here you will see that each MP is costing us all a small fortune. Half a million pounds according to this tiny snippet by, Andrew Pierce, in the Mail. Which of all the press propagandist is the biggest right ring pusher for the establishment. So they are unlikely to be off the button.

      The heading is: The Costliest Club in London.

      It tells us government is pushing for a huge increase in salay from £66,000 to £97,000PA. Yet, slaries apart, how much do you think it really costs the public for each one of those claimants? Well, Andrew tells us to keep one local MP fed and watered in Parliament takes a healthy £573,431.00 fir every one of them.

      Here it is, you have to scroll down to the headline third from top. They didn’t want to make it a front page warning.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2261813/Gordon-Browns–hes-doing-U-turn.html

      So much for the idea of a 1% increase. ‘Not I,’ said the pig.

  3. ladytizzy
    12/01/2013 at 4:30 pm

    Baroness Deech, allegations of untrustworthy behaviour within our establishment is hardly a new thing, nor is the UK uniquely blessed with corrupt individuals paid by the state.

    But let’s not stop there: we have a go at anyone who doesn’t match our pick ‘n’ mix standards of today, whether we know them or not, and being dead or non-existent is no longer the higher bar to justify hue and cry.

    The radio broadcast of the Ross/Brand telephone call to Mr Sachs is a simple example. Everyone knows what happened – or do they?

    Evidence

  4. ladytizzy
    12/01/2013 at 6:07 pm

    As I was saying…

    The radio broadcast of the Ross/Brand telephone call to Mr Sachs is a simple example. Everyone knows what happened – or do they? The details are significant and may reshape someone’s overall view of the incident. However, even if existing or new information should nullify one’s verdict it is often too late. Andrew Mitchell may well prove to be a victim but he lost his job and reputation while HM’s Loyal Opportunists necked a celebratory spritzer. Even now, the storyline is being reshaped in order to scream about [the number of police officers investigating pleb-gate] / [the number of officers investigating themselves] / [police officers failed to investigate pleb-gate properly] /… After all, it’s much better to report on another’s dastardly deeds than on one’s own.

    Your post was going so well until the last para, but I decided you must have been in a playful mood, if not in full-blown wind-up merchant guise.

    • maude elwes
      22/01/2013 at 4:51 am

      @Lady T:

      Andrew Mitchell, no matter the outcome of any investigation, cannot be considered a victim of others behaviour. If he considers himself a victim, then he created his own persecution.

      For, the pleb word is a smokescreen. Unimportant in the round. The insult doesn’t lie with his idea that a Policeman/Woman deserves less respect than his elitist position. It lies in the fact he felt he could verbally abuse those paid to take care of his and others security by abusing them with profanity, whilst being in a position of authority. He showed his true character which exposed his kinship with a low life thug on any street corner.

      How could such a man be considered worthy in government office? If a man wants high office and respect within that office he must offer the idea of an exemplary character. If he cannot do that, then he has no business in the position he has or seeks.

      End of story.

      • Lord Blagger
        22/01/2013 at 12:03 pm

        Really?

        And policemen reporting non existent events?

        Politicians tar for something that isn’t even an offence. Swearing at the police isn’t a crime. Appeal court decision puts that one to rest.

        Ho hum, lets give the police a quota. They can stitch anyone up. Just make up the evidence, convict and jail.

        • maude elwes
          23/01/2013 at 5:54 pm

          @Blagger:

          You are offering a pretence at naivete.

          On this occassion the culprit admitted he swore at the police person or persons in question. What he denied was the pleb word.

          And then you go on to say there is no crime swearing at a police officer. Well you could have fooled me and thousands of people who have been arrested and charged for such an offence. It only becomes a non crime when a ‘Boy Mulcaster’ a real degenerate, decides to do it. And he slides around it by threatening that if he isn’t reinstated he will sink those he knows the dirt on in the same way he sunk himself.

          Here’s a little refresher on the Viscount Mulcaster. And the delctable Charles Rider with the adored Sebastian Flyte.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agfiWLPGank

          And for those of us who believe your idiocy.

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8906739/Met-Police-chief-officers-will-still-arrest-swearing-suspects-despite-court-ruling.html#

          Take it to the next level. A man is unfit for office when he behaves like the yob he is. Mitchell is unfit for purpose. He’s a spoilt brat who needs his Papa to give him a bloody good hiding.

          He is an uncouth deviant. Not a good idea to offer this up as a British statesman. Not for any one of us. It lessens our ability to impress as a leading power.

  5. maude elwes
    13/01/2013 at 9:30 pm

    And here we go again. Judges are appointed and I wager they have to conform to political correct dogma in their deliberations or else.

    Just as the Anglican Church has been told to get into line or face retribution, these same Judges are on a tightrope of some kind. Freedom of conscience and interpretation of law would expect to be politically acceptable to those doing the appointing.

    How else would Cherie Blair have made it otherwise? She is not that smart and never was.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1358090/Blair-will-quit-so-Cherie-can-become-a-judge.html#

    • Baroness Deech
      Baroness Deech
      14/01/2013 at 4:17 pm

      On the contrary. Every day judges are making decisions, e.g. about human rights and criminals, which are really disliked by the government, (see the Daily Mail!) but they have to accept it because that is the law, and the judges are independent. The appointment process is like other jobs, advertisement etc. The same goes for the US Supreme Court, to which appointments are arguably much more political than ours, because the judges are nominated and then face examination by politicians before approval. Even so, once those judges are sitting on the Supreme Court, they often behave very differently from what was expected. They – and ours – have the freedom to make up their own minds, always within the law and the constitution pertaining to the case. And they (virtually) cannot be dismissed, which gives them strength to make controversial decisions if they feel it necessary on the wording of the laws before them.

      • Lord Blagger
        14/01/2013 at 4:46 pm

        That’s largely because you and MPs have failed.

        MPs to write the law in the first place.

        Peers failed to quality control it.

        What are we paying you to do if you can’t get it right?

      • maude elwes
        14/01/2013 at 5:04 pm

        Yes, Baroness, I have no doubt that is what we are supposed to believe. However, it is a political appoitment and the ado comes about when one of the left wing Judges sides too closely with Europe or the Human Rights Act or the whatever else he should not have had the cajones to dare to do.

        Or, of course it could be the extremely right wing judge who bangs someone up for eternity as he dared to take a pizza to fill his need for food, or, should I say a crown swan to eat.

  6. MilesJSD
    13/01/2013 at 9:40 pm

    That’s quite a bit of writing about tangled-webs and ‘quicksands’ of ‘incomes versus taxes’;

    and thank you for revealing that MPs are increasing their efforts to “hash-mix-hide” work-expenses amongst personal-income-needs.

    Maybe cunningly, major Facts and Factors have been omitted; so here is my sketch of a few such:

    1. (a) The whole overarching Economic & Financial Pyramid falsely evaluates the Earth’s (and Britains’s) Renewable and Non-Renewable Stock and Resources;

    (b) but British Governance minds and powers should long ago have scrutinised and brought those wonky-ivory-towered-professionals down to earth,
    so

    2. the whole Governing-Class
    of “Owner-Bosses”, Establishmentarians (including Royalty and the Judiciary),
    Politicians & Parliamentarians,
    Civil-Service chiefs, and Media and University Magnates
    is also causatively and complicitly corrupted, malfeasant, anti-Earthlife, and anti-Democratic.
    ——————
    3. The Workplace Financial Directorate should pay all work-expenses of all and any of its workers.

    4. After that, one human being needs only one-human-living, as a ‘salary’, ‘wage’, ‘lifesupportive-payment’. or ‘allowance’.
    ————
    5. Furthermore, only criminals conceal their riches, and weapons.
    Legitimate goods, services and monies consumers, such as Parliamentarians and all Law-abiding citizens, should publish every part of their Assets and Incomes, and cooperate against Greed, Gluttony, Blindness-of-Heart, Wanton-extinction-of-biological-lifesupports, and Irreversible-destruction-of-non-renewables.

    6. The hole MPs are digging is not leading to “gold”; they need to stop that sort of digging.

    7. Destroying Life on Earth
    is the product of Over-Protected, Life-Under-Experienced, and Mind-Functionally Be-sotted Earthlife-Management, amongst which MPs and Peers are to be counted,
    and their “affairs” are no longer a “rightful”, “secret”, “blank-cheque”, nor “private”, Matter.

  7. Gareth Howell
    14/01/2013 at 1:15 pm

    One of the few professions to retain trust is the legal profession, in particular, the judiciary. I have every confidence that they deserve our trust.

    “Murmuring Judges” is one play by David Hare that the correspondent would not enjoy, in that case.

  8. Senex
    14/01/2013 at 2:29 pm

    In December 2009 the Master of the Rolls gives a lecture. He leaves his audience with some doubt by saying that there may unintended consequences but he praises the separation of powers.

    In late 2012 the blog asks why the head of state, the Crown has given Royal Assent to changes that diminish both its constitutional protection and that of its subjects.

    In 1215 Magna Carta is given the royal seal of approval. History concerns itself with the content of this charter but popularly gives little consideration as to its legality.

    Roll forward to 2013, a new US Congress and the Senate Oath:

    “…I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion…”

    The King is unhappy with what has happened and takes legal advice. Subsequently, the Charter is annulled by Pope Innocent II. The King has ‘signed’ the Charter under duress. He has NOT entered into an obligation freely and has mental reservations about what has happened.

    The difficulty is Kings will be Kings and at the drop of a hat they will cry foul. An arbiter is required this is the role of Lord Chancellor. At his discretion he can convene a constitutional court; in practice this never happens because matters are resolved by King and Parliament to prevent this. The Chancellor’s power to do this does however remain.

    The monarchy has severely diminished is protection by the creation of the Supreme Court and the loss of its Lord Chancellor. If the royal conscience is now offended it stays offended or absent.

    The Queen might just as well take the paw of one her pet corgis, press it to an ink pad and then to paper to give royal assent to any dog of a bill that comes her way and by any dog of a government.

    Lord Neuberger how in your modern democracy can a legitimate constitutional court now be convened? The Supreme Court may give a constitutional view but politicians may take it or leave it because it has no constitutional jurisdiction; this remains with Parliament.

    Ref: Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Master of the Rolls:
    The Supreme Court: is the House of Lords ‘Losing Part of Itself’?
    http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Speeches/mr-supreme-court-lecture-dec-2009.pdf
    US Senates Oath of Office: Text of the Senate’s Oath
    http://www.senate.gov/reference/reference_index_subjects/Oath_vrd.htm

  9. Lord Blagger
    14/01/2013 at 4:22 pm

    Related to expenses crimes and other things covered up by the Lords. [It's a state secret about the clerk of parliaments. He investigated his own handling, and then made it a state secret what he found / knew]

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/14/labour-peers-suspended

    Two Labour peers face suspension from the House of Lords until the autumn after being found guilty of offering to try to change the law in return for money.

    Slap on the wrist.

    Austrian ex-MEP Ernst Strasser jailed for bribe-taking

    Mr Strasser’s meeting with British undercover reporters in 2011 sparked the probe
    Continue reading the main story
    Related Stories

    Austrian ex-MEP Strasser on trial
    A former Austrian interior minister and Euro MP, Ernst Strasser, has been sentenced to four years in jail after being convicted of bribe-taking.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21017914

    So much for the House of Lords self regulating people offering to change the law for cash. Soliciting a bribe.

  10. Bedd Gelert
    15/01/2013 at 8:14 pm

    Is there any danger of having a televised Sumo Wrestling match between Lord Forsyth and Lord Rennard, to solve their differences ??

    It won’t work, but the TV ratings could be even higher than for ‘Splash!’…

    In anticipation…

  11. Maureen Green
    17/01/2013 at 8:59 pm

    Will the House ever even seem clean whilst this is allowed from a Chancellor?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/dec/07/taxpayers-paid-george-osborne-paddock-mortgage

  12. Maureen Green
    18/01/2013 at 5:21 pm

    The Judiciary are now held in contempt by the common people mainly through child sex offence debacles which the common man finds abhorrent yet Judges tend to err on the defendants side. People wonder why ?

    http://www.chrisspivey.co.uk/?p=8704

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